For Canadian Kathleen Edwards, U.S. Success Is Icing On The Cake

Excerpted from the magazine for

Calling her debut album "Failer" may have been an ironic defensive move against it suffering an unhappy fate, but Canadian singer/songwriter Kathleen Edwards admits to being taken aback by early response in the U.S., where it will be released Jan. 14, via Zoe/ Rounder Records.

"I'm definitely feeling like I've got a horseshoe up my ass," the 24-year-old roots-rock artist says. "I feel that everything I've done up to now has been so much further than what I initially anticipated doing with this record. Anything above what happens today I'm thrilled about."

Issued Sept. 7 in Canada via MapleMusic Recordings, the album illustrates Edwards' storytelling abilities, particularly on songs like the single, "Six O'Clock News," about a lover's violent end; "Westby," which glibly profiles an affair with an older married man; and the self-explanatory, if cheeky, "One More Song the Radio Won't Like."

Born in Ottawa, Edwards -- the daughter of Leonard Edwards, currently Canada's Deputy Minister for International Trade -- spent parts of her teen years in Seoul, Korea, and Geneva. While overseas, she was drawn to her brother Timothy's record collection. "A lot of my music came from what he was listening to, although he's only two years older," she says. "He was into Neil Young and Bob Dylan, and he bought me my first record, a Tom Petty album."

Following high school, Edwards developed a significant buzz around Ottawa playing acoustic guitar in local bars. In 1999, she released a self-made, six-song EP, Building 55, which sold 500 copies. The following year, Edwards toured Canada promoting the album, booking her own dates, and driving herself in a beat-up Suburban. "I printed off 500 copies, and they all sold," she says proudly. "Then I didn't print anymore."

During the summer of 2001, while going through a breakup with a boyfriend, and after moving to a farmhouse near Wakefield, Quebec, Edwards wrote seven of the 10 songs on "Failer." While the breakup may have triggered some of the songs, the tracks on the album aren't necessarily autobiographical.

"I wasn't thinking consciously about whether I was writing songs that people were going to like," she says. "I wrote songs that I liked."

In the fall of 2000 Edwards recorded the bulk of "Failer" at Little Bullhorn Productions in Ottawa, co-producing with studio owner Dave Draves. "When I recorded, I had nobody looking over my shoulder," she says. "That was a blessing. Plus I was in Ottawa. Who the hell is going to look over my shoulder there? All the musicians I played with were guys I had been playing with for years."

To support the U.S. launch of "Failer," Edwards will perform Jan. 17 on "Late Night With David Letterman."

Excerpted from the Dec.28, 2002, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the members section.

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